Flatbush: Chapter 3 – Avon By The Sea

It was the beginning of the term and now Marlon was a freshman at Brooklyn College, Robert was a freshman at Baruch College on 23rd Street in Manhattan, Dennis was a senior at HCHS and Heston was a senior at EHHS. The boys got together on Saturday to play a little basketball in Dennis’ backyard. When Robert got to the house he saw a car with New Jersey plates parked in the driveway. He asked Dennis who was visiting and was told it was Dennis’ uncle Danny, aunt Kathleen and their 3 bratty daughters. They played basketball for about an hour and Robert had to go into the house to get a drink of water. Everyone was in the living room and he heard this girl talk about how beautiful the Jersey Shore beaches were, especially Avon. He laughed out loud when he heard that. His laugh was like three guffaws. The girl looked at him and said “What do you know about the Jersey Shore beaches?” He answered her with “I know they can’t compare to Coney Island”.  She jumped off the couch, went up to him and said ”You don’t know what you are talking about. You have probably never been to the Jersey shore.” Then she began to berate him more. He didn’t pay any attention to what she was saying. He looked at her eyes, her nose, her mouth, her hair. He could not look away while he was being verbally abused. Finally she stopped and he took two steps backward and said he had a game to finish, “nice meeting you”. As he left the room he heard mom Kathleen say, “Kathy, that’s no way to treat one of Dennis’s friends. You should apologize”. Kathy ignored mom, acting as if she didn’t hear her, as the group went on to talk about something else. She did sneak a look through the living room window at the boys playing basketball in the back yard.

Robert said to Dennis, “Your cousin, Kathy, she’s kind of feisty, isn’t she?” Dennis said “She is a real ball of fire,  you don’t want to get into an argument with her.” Dennis and Robert were teamed up in this game, a game they normally should win easily.  But Robert played terribly; he missed passes, missed easy shots and threw the ball out of bounds several times.  He could not stop thinking about Kathy, that feisty temperament, and, mostly, that incredible face.  For once Marlon and Heston beat the two smaller players.  Dennis was not happy about this.  They agreed to have a rematch tomorrow, Sunday, when Dennis got home from church.

Sunday at 1pm Robert arrives at the Smith house for the basketball game and sees a hearse in the driveway.   He hears the bouncing basketball in the backyard, rushes to the basketball court, and asks Dennis “why is there a hearse in the driveway.” Dennis introduces Robert to the fourth player on the court. “This is Bob Smiley, Kathy’s boyfriend. Kathy stayed over last night and Bob came to pick Kathy up and drive her back to Avon. Bob’s dad is the funeral director in Belmar, the town next to Avon.”   Dennis tells Robert he will have to wait for the next game because they just started a game. Robert peeks into the living room window and he sees Kathy looking out and quickly look away when she sees Robert looking into the window. Robert goes into the Smith house and says hello to Dennis parents and nods at Kathy. Kathy smiles at Robert and asks him if he is playing basketball. To Robert, it was as if yesterday’s verbal abuse never took place. He thought she was friendly and beautiful. Robert tells her he has to wait until the game being played is over. Then he surprises himself by asking Kathy if she would like to go for a walk while they finish the basketball game. Kathy readily agrees.

They start walking down Albemarle Road, past the Levine house, towards Flatbush Avenue. After they have walked a couple of blocks and made small talk, Kathy says “Do you think I am funny looking?” Flustered, Robert responds, “No, why would you say that, what do you mean?” Kathy says “You keep on staring at me.” Even more flustered, Robert says “I am just trying to be polite by giving you my complete attention. Maybe you are not used to a gentleman?” Kathy smiles, says “maybe not” and puts her left arm around his right arm. At that point Robert knew his day could not get any better; he went from being severely flustered to enamored in a manner of seconds. He thought to himself, “I am a silver tongued genius”. She thought, “he is cute, bashful, and funny.” They continued walking about twenty minutes. They talked about their families and what it is like to live in Brooklyn and at the Jersey shore. Soon they were back at the house. The basketball game would end in a minute and Kathy and her boyfriend, Bob Smiley, would drive back to the Jersey shore in the hearse. As the hearse pulls out of the driveway, Kathy opens the window and shouts out, “bye Robert.” Hearing her say his name was the icing on the cake. He thought she was someone special and he wondered if he would ever see her again..




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